Everybody Needs a Little Love

by Nikki Mark

School Children

Honoring five years since Tommy’s passing

I was traveling abroad a few weeks ago and did something that I rarely do on vacation—I clicked on CNN.com and read the headlines.

Another elementary school shooting. Nashville this time. Three children and six adults were killed. In one big swoop, parents lost children. Children lost their parents. And friends and siblings lost best friends and soulmates, not to mention childhoods.

So much loss. Countless broken hearts.

What are we missing? I asked myself. How is it that we have more resources, organizations, and passionate people than ever dedicated to reducing gun violence in this country, and yet the number of mass shootings keeps escalating?

When I heard no answers, I turned to author, storyteller and activist Michael Meade and his book, Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss, for perspective.

“A meaningful dilemma,” Meade says, “will keep returning at deeper and deeper levels until a creative solution is sought and subsequently becomes discovered. It is as if the basic split in the world must be touched before a hidden third and unifying thing can be uncovered.”

His words challenged me to find that “third and unifying thing” and I took a stab at it.

First, I examined the issue the way I would have before the day my son passed away. That businesswoman relied on logic and strategy to find solutions to challenging problems, and she developed somewhat of a knack for it.

But when it came to the rise in gun violence across our country, my gut told me that logic held no immediate answers. Half our country thinks one way, and half thinks another. Round and round we will go until the movement for change ends up where most negotiations do, somewhere near the middle. And those who will get us there are the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and are motivated by a love so deep that this massive undertaking will never ever break them. I trust them more than anyone to get this right.

So, leaving logic behind, my mind searched for someone to hold accountable. But blame took me in too many directions, and I quickly concluded that no matter what side of the political spectrum the politicians we like are on, it could take them decades to impact the number of us buying guns, misusing guns, and creating a twenty-four-hour news cycle reacting to guns.

Waiting for our government at any level to modify our habits and impact our choices felt like wishful thinking, not to mention laziness.

Nearing a dead end, I opened my heart and used it to search for yet another angle. Life had forced me to do the same after my son departed and painfully taught me that this is where the simplest and most creative answers to our most complex problems reside.

There’s gotta be another way of looking at this…I said aloud, hoping my son’s spirit was fluttering nearby and could hear me. What is it?

I turned to Michael Meade again for direction.

“The third thing” trying to appear to relieve the tension between two opposing interests doesn’t come from “reason” or “dogma” or “blind belief.” It comes from what he calls “The deepest power of the human soul…our imagination.”

I may not know much about gun reform, I thought to myself, but I do know my imagination is strong.

It’s so strong, in fact, that it even connects with my son’s spirit! So without hesitation, I put it to work.

I was immediately transported back in time to when my son was in the 4th grade, and I received a call that his public school was under lockdown. I raced home in time to welcome him into my arms and hear all about what it was like to be locked inside his classroom for hours and escorted out of school by the SWAT team.

“Someone called our school and said they were coming to shoot up kids,” my son reported with tears in his eyes. “But it was a prank.”

His music teacher, who was waiting at our house for his weekly lesson, proceeded to spend the next hour helping him process the incident by writing a song about it.

When he performed it for me weeks later, I was proud of him in the way any mother would be. The lyrics were thoughtful. The chorus was catchy. And his singing voice was nearly as good as he thought it was.

But when I thought about Nashville, his lyrics replayed louder in my mind and made me think that if our human minds can’t find a solution anytime soon, maybe a love song written by a ten-year-old can.

I’ve shown snippets of my son performing his song on social media simply to share a meaningful moment with those who love and miss him, but I am now sharing the full lyrics, not because he was the next Bob Dylan and I want you to gush, but because the more I meet parents who have lost children, the more I see the gifts that these children have left behind, many in the form of wisdom and activism far beyond their human years.

So let’s see if my son’s words hold what Meade calls the “Magic Touch” to wake us up.

The song starts with a description of what it’s like to be a child locked up in a classroom with a perceived shooter at large:

“Sittin in homeroom like I do every day
But today was a little different and not in a good way
The principal came on the loudspeaker
And said that this was a legit lockdown
Kids were crying for their moms
So scared and so confused
The police drew their guns
With a bad guy on the loose…”

Then the chorus breaks in and tell us the problem and the solution at the very same time:

Everybody needs a little love
So there will be no more tears
We need to stop being afraid
And realize everything’s ok
When we have love

The second verse plays on and does what the human mind does best: it finds blame and seeks consequences:

“Kinda makes me wonder what pushed you over the edge
you used to be a victim but now you’re a threat
My anger has decreased I just feel sorry for you
Did your mama not raise you right
My friends are all freaked out
You closed a bunch of schools
Eventually you will get caught for breaking all the rules”

But the heart knows this won’t heal us. Nor will it change us. So, the chorus kicks in harder and reminds us once more that the problem is the solution:

Everybody needs a little love
So there will be no more tears
We need to stop being afraid
And realize everything’s ok
When we have love

And for those still listening, a bridge transports us from tragedy to hope:

“We turn the page, the sun has set
A new day has begun
Not scared no more, love’s taken over
It’s stronger than your hate
Love always finds its way…”

And as we look toward a brighter future, our hearts open and generate the solution, which costs nothing and never runs out. But in case we still haven’t grasped it, the chorus repeats one more time:

Everybody needs a little love
So there will be no more tears
We need to stop being afraid
And realize everything’s ok
When we have love…

And so it is, on this 5th anniversary of my eldest son’s passing, that I light a candle and send my deepest love to not only him but to Nashville and everybody across our country, even those I don’t know or like, because if I do this, maybe you’ll do this, and together, we the people will provide what Michael Meade calls the missing “Charm” needed to achieve what our leaders and those who have suffered from gun violence cannot achieve on their own:

Consensus that “Everybody Needs a Little Love,” and that by opening our hearts and sharing more of them every single day, we will stop feeling afraid and help our country find its way.

2 thoughts on “Everybody Needs a Little Love”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. So many topics are in complete chaos and separation, but as a mother myself( a vocation that calls to all children not just my own) I love how your so saw the missing piece of us moving forward.
    Love, the root is love. Thank you very much for being a voice of something new and different in the approach to gun violence. We need new dialogue on solutions and understanding this complex dilemma and listening to others coming from a place of live instead of resistance doesn’t allow us to get to the root of it all, which is love

    Reply
    • Thank you, Chrisy. I know the word “love” can feel so overused, but I agree with you. Now that I intentionally put love into everything I do, I see how it impacts myself and others. I feel like this is something we can all do to change our world… ❤️

      Reply

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